Yes, we said sump pumps. While Florida is known for it’s warm weather and sand, rain and severe tropical storms are also a reality. In 1987 the Federal Clean Air Act required all new construction to have a sump pump, but it’s just as important in existing homes, particularly if the property is prone to flooding.
What’s a sump pump? An electric pump installed either in the basement floor or outside the home in a basin which is below the lowest level in the house. which The pump is activated by rising water and removes the water from the house or from below the house before flooding occurs.
There are two types of sump pumps; submersible and pedestal.
A submersible pump sits entirely within the sump basin. When water is present, some or all of the pump is submerged. As the water rises, a float or pressure switch turns on the motor and pumps it out to a minimal water level. Because the pump is underwater, it runs cooler and lasts longer. Another benefit is because everything is contained within the basin, it can be covered with a lid.
A pedestal pump is mounted on a stand above the sump basin, where most of it remains dry. The water comes up through a suction pipe and the pump is triggered by a float or pressure switch. Since the motor and electrical connections are not submerged, it’s easier to perform routine maintenance and switch components. The downside is that the pump isn’t covered.
It’s easy to forget about the sump pump when doing regular plumbing maintenance, but this is one fixture you don’t want to neglect; when you need it, you REALLY need it.
Three things can cause your pump to fail:
• Clogged discharge lines
• Power failure
• Lack of maintenance
Keep in mind, during heavy storms or prolonged periods of rain it’s not uncommon to lose power. Power failure can be mitigated with a battery back-up system, which is highly recommended. To avoid the other two causes, test your pump regularly. A professional can test more thoroughly, but you can certainly do it on your own if necessary.
• Make sure the power is on.
• Clear debris from the sump basin.
• Fill the basin with water to the level where it will activate the pump.
• Lift the float and make sure the pump kicks in. (If it doesn’t, don’t leave it running, which could cause damage.)
• If the pump is working, let water run through it to clear out the debris.
• If it’s not working, call for repair.
Most people would agree, hot water is important.
What you may not know, is when water is pumped in, dirt and minerals also make their way into your water heater, which makes the heater work harder, and unfortunately, causes it to slowly rust.
It sounds worse than it is. With the right maintenance, your water heater should last about 15
years, and fortunately, it’s not difficult. Here are five things you can do to keep things running smooth and efficiently.
1. To save on energy costs, turn the thermostat down to 120 degrees. For every 10 degrees you lower the temperature, you’ll save approximately 5% in energy.
2. Insulate older units to improve efficiency. This reduces heat loss by up to 45% which could shave an average of 9% off of your water heating costs.
3. Each year test the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve (TPRV.) This valve prevents excessive pressure and keeps the water heater from exploding. To test the TPRV:
• Turn off the power and cold-water supply valves.
• Place a bucket underneath.
• Lift the valve to let some water out, then let go, if it keeps flowing or dripping, you’ll need to drain the tank partway and install a new valve.
4. Drain 1/4 of the tank a few times a year to remove sediment and debris, (and the heater will
run quieter.) To drain:
• Turn off the electric or gas to extinguish the pilot light.
• Hook up a garden hose to the drain and run water to the exterior or bathtub ten to fifteen minutes. Make sure no other hot fixtures are in use while performing this.
5. Change the Viable Anode Rod about every five years before it fails. Doing this could double the life of your water heater. The rod attracts corrosive elements and keeps them out of the water. However, when the rod itself gets corroded, it can’t do its job and the water heater could rust. (Do not remove it permanently or it will void manufacturers warranties.) There are a couple of options for the type of rod you use.
• A magnesium anode rod protects better but doesn’t last as long.
• Aluminum/zinc rods are cheaper and are recommended for smelly water.
• Be sure to consult a water treatment specialist before purchasing and installing a new rod.